‘The Boy,’ ‘Finest Hour’ could have been better

Casey Affleck in “The Finest Hours.”
Casey Affleck in “The Finest Hours.”

The Boy **1/2

Usually bad movies, even bad supernatural suspense movies, get worse rather than better as they move from start to finish. With The Boy, a great story suffers under questionable directing, though it does improve about halfway through. The problem with the first act? Anyone in their right mind facing this escapable nightmare would have been reduced to a blubbering mess, while running as fast as humanly possible. When an apparently possessed nearly life-sized doll, resembling a dead 8-year-old boy, begins to show signs of life and a bit of malevolence, you’d head for the nearest door. Sure, you say, that’s true of many if not most “don’t go in there” movies. But in The Boy, the filmmakers have managed to perfect the idiocy and brought it to a new high (or low). It seems that the main character, in this case The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan as Greta, possesses a lack of natural reactions, and the character is prone to making bad decisions. Even GEICO Insurance lampoons the genre by depicting rattled teens in a horror film making bad decisions. Again, in The Boy, bad decisions are raised to a new highs you’ll have to see to believe. By contrast, great supernatural films, like Nicole Kidman’s The Others, and Bruce Willis’ The Sixth Sense, build the suspense and creep-factor without sacrificing the story, or the natural reactions of the characters. It helps that Kidman and Willis are fine actors and had a great scripts with which to work. All that said, The Boy is kind of fun and delivers a third act twist, which I must admit caught me by surprise and added a half-star, raising the overall experience a notch. While The Boy, is not great, if you love the genre, you could do worse.

The Finest Hours **1/2

Because The Finest Hours is based on a remarkable true story of Coast Guard bravery and heroism, and because it’s set in maritime Massachusetts (one my favorite places on the planet), and because the action takes place during a nor’easter in the winter of 1952, and because it has a decent cast of proven actors, this film deserves some attention. Beyond that, Disney wasted an opportunity to make an OK movie spectacular. One of the weak points comes from the odd score, which seemed strangely off-putting. You’ll probably get used to star Chris Pine’s affected accent and chosen mumbling delivery, but the pacing and less than spectacular CGI dragged this movie into the depths, even as the SS Pendleton tanker broken in two and adrift just off the coast fought the same plight. Pine, whose work in the Star Trek franchise reboots as a young Captain Kirk, proved he was more than just a pretty face; the 35-year-old can act, so the fault lay elsewhere in a movie that didn’t take advantage of Pine and co-stars Casey Affleck and Holiday Grainger. Not the finest move in a story that deserved better.

What’s new at the movies this week

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What do those stars mean?